Dove's "real beauty" is a charade

Jim and I had the tv on this weekend, and a certain ad had me shaking my head and waxing feminist about the difference between the marketing of products to men and women.

Drink this beer...Get a hot chick! 
Shave with this gel...Get a hot chick! 
Buy this domain...Get a hot chick!

Advertising geared toward women is a different beast entirely, creating fears and providing "solutions" to embarrassing problems we never knew existed in our bodies and homes.

Your couch smells! Your house smells! You smell, not just at the gym but probably on your subway commute, too!
Your (off-white!) teeth are crawling with "bugs"!
Your lashes aren't lush!
Your thighs don't "gap"!
Your hair is flat! Your color dull!

And apparently, there's also something wrong with our armpits. They're not pretty enough, and we're probably not "ready" for sleeveless shirts, no matter what the weather report says.

Yup, the ad that inspired my mini tirade this weekend was created by none other than Dove, the "real beauty" company that brought us that feel-good viral ad that everyone was sharing on social media yesterday.

I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices and the friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children.
It impacts everything. It couldn't be more critical to your happiness.

Beauty couldn't be more critical to your happiness. Imma go ahead and call that a fat corporate lie, peddled by a company with a vested interest in our believing that they can sell us both. Beauty and happiness are fleeting, at least the versions that come in a lipstick tube or can be purchased on credit. Those pleasures fade, but their elusive promise is a carrot that we keep chasing despite our better judgment.

If only we were skinnier--or curvier. If our arms were sculpted, our nail beds nicer, our lips fuller, our skin darker (or lighter), our stomachs flatter, our butts rounder, our breasts perkier, our hair smoother...THEN we would finally be truly happy, right? 

(Because if we've learned anything at all, it's that beautiful people are the happiest. Celebrities, for instance. Um...)

We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren't quite right, and we should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like.

Just not our armpits, right? Dove, you're kinda full of crap. You can't sell "real beauty" with a side of insecurity; that's not how this works. Yes, women experience happiness when we feel pretty, but joy is a much deeper well, which you'll never bottle, no matter how hard you try.

Joy arises from inhabiting bodies of all shapes fully and well, and women are not ornaments, shells, or prizes to be won. I may feel happy when I wear a pretty dress, but I experience joy when I dance, recognizing my own body's strength through work or play. With our hands we comfort and serve, and we are so much more than than our skin.

Joy is being present to the moment, loving and being loved, and the satisfaction of a job well-done. It's using our gifts to make the world better, lighting the darkness, and lightening one another's load. My joy is wrapped up in yours; we find happiness in connection and in the beauty of kindness, community, and truth.

Beauty is critical to happiness insofar as it is understood to be something greater than anything that can be photoshopped or purchased at a drugstore. Neither age nor "unsightly" armpits are a threat to the lasting beauty that springs from kind hearts and good works.

(And Dove? I like my deodorant without toxins, thanks.)

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